Taking Congress's Words Seriously: Towards a Sound Construction of NEPA's Long Overlooked Interpretation Mandate
23 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2009
Date Written: February, 16 2009
This Article analyzes subsection 102(1) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which directs that "to the fullest extent possible, the policies, regulations, and public laws of the United States shall be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies set forth in this chapter." After a discussion of the plain language and the (pithy) legislative history of this often overlooked yet nonetheless significant congressional mandate, the Article examines the substantive policies that NEPA sets forth as a guidepost for regulatory and statutory interpretation and implementation. It also focuses on whom the subsection applies to and the likely meaning of the phrase "to the fullest extent possible." Finally, drawing for illustration on a recently decided United States Supreme Court case, National Ass'n of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife, the Article explores the rich potential of this portion of NEPA as a mechanism for illuminating and harmonizing the requirements of federal environmental statutes.
Keywords: NEPA,federal environmental statutes
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation